Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Nostalgia is a strange play-mate.. you never know when it is going to accost you and insist on taking you down memory lane...
Most of the times you can anticipate its arrival -
* When its festival time in India (almost every month, you might say ! ) and you are at work, in a different country , in a different time zone, yearning to be with friends and family who are merrily celebrating
* When you talk to your parents on the phone
* When you get together with friends to celebrate an occasion

Sometimes, you wont see it coming, but you can sense it gently taking your hand and leading you away -
* When you see the parents of your friends ; softspoken , bespectacled , tolerant, loving and probably balding fathers and vivacious, enthusiastic , gently smiling , laughing mothers who remind you of your own much-loved and much-missed parents
* When you see another family, going cycling together or playing tag in the front yard , or taking their dog for a walk, or just having dinner together in a restaurant
* When you see a football / basketball game in progress with vehement and boisterous spectators, you remember cricket matches in the past which you ardently watched with your family and friends

And oftentimes it takes you by surprise, striking you out of the blue and yanking you into days past. It was Monday morning and I was filling up my van with gas, on my way to my son's school and then on to work. I hadnt had my morning cup of coffee yet and would have been termed almost bleary eyed if it hadnt been for the fact that I had showered and was dressed
for work. It was a new week and a new day and I was looking forward to it , but not just then.

Out of nowhere, I heard a sound that I hadnt heard in a long time ...Caw Caw ...the shrill , often racuous cawing of the common black crow ! (I dont know if there is a paucity of crows in the city where I live or it just doesnt penetrate my conscious hearing, but I didnt recall hearing
that sound in the recent past !) I turned my head and there it was - a medium sized crow , sitting on a lamp post and singing ..err..cawing away merrily ..And just like that , I was transported to the backyard of my father's ancestral house in the coastal villages of North Kanara. That was an annual pilgrimage for my family when I was a kid ...visiting my relatives for two glorious carefree months.
Having been brought up in a city, living in a sprawling house with dusty attics and dark corridors was a refreshing change. Mornings and evenings would be spent in various activities and events around the house. But afternoons were ours to spend as we chose. My brother and my cousins would be holed up on the staircases, pretending to be bus and truck drivers and I would be tucked in a chair in the front yard, under a huge mango tree, with my favourite book of the moment. The shade was a relief from the afternoon sun and the slight breeze flowing in from
the sea was almost soporific. The only ones to keep me company were cats from neighbouring houses, scrounging around for food and of course , crows sitting on the above mentioned mango trees, enthusiastically and unrelentlessly trying to sing me to sleep. These were my constant afternoon companions, familiar and irritating at the same time. The afternoons would always pass as if in a haze, I would be half reading and half asleep, but I didnt have any complaints ! Hectic school days would arrive soon and I had only so many days of satisfactory solitude :-)
Evenings would again be spent with ever arriving cousins and visitors, as is the norm in any village setting. Every household always has guests trooping in and out and the hosts are ever prepared for every visit ! But thats besides the point (maybe another post!).

So there I was, remembering crows and lazy afternoons and mango trees. The thud of the gas nozzle thrust me back into the present. My toddler was squirming in his car seat and the gas pump was spitting out the receipt, thus ending my sojourn into the past. Getting into the driver's seat, I turned my head to look at the bird that had started this pleasant interlude, but it was nowhere to be seen.
....Perhaps it was sitting on some other lamp post - crying out its high pitched , ear piercing tune , leading some other hapless individual down memory lane.

What triggers your nostalgia ?

Friday, August 07, 2009

BBC Book Tag - How many have you read ?

Chanced upon this tag at the Punarjanman blog (Thanks!).
For all fellow book lovers out there, consider yourselves tagged.
This is supposed to be a BBC generated list. There are quite a few books in there which have interested me in the past and I have been meaning to read them !
Now that I have seen this list, I shall have to make sure and get them from the library (if only to have more x's on my list!! )

Instructions: Copy this into your blog. Look at the list and put an ‘x’ after those you have read. Tag other book nerds.
The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen x
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte x
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling x
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible in parts
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens x

Total: 5

11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott x
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy x
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier x
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

Total: 3

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell x
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll x
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

Total: 2

31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens x
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis x
34 Emma – Jane Austen x
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen x
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis x
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne x

Total: 6

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery x
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy x
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan

Total: 3

51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen x
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens x
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Total: 2

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas x
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding x
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Total: 2

71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens x
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett x
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt

Total: 2

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens x
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom x
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle x
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

Total: 3

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas x
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl x
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

total: 2

Grand total = 30